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City acts to curb high water use

Use water sparingly or face a forced reduction – that is the warning the City of Johannesburg has issued to wasteful water users as the drought shows no signs of letting off and dam levels continue to plummet.

Johannesburg Water, the City’s water and sanitation provision entity, warned during a media conference today, October 13, that it would be forced to introduce stringent water restrictions if the required 15% reduction in water consumption was not achieved.

The call to reduce water consumption by 15%, made on September 5, followed the publication of a Government Gazette notice by the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation.

Member of the Mayoral Committee for Environment and Infrastructure Services Cllr Anthony Still said after the September 5 appeal, water consumption dropped by 4.6% in the first week but regressed to 3.5% and to as low as 1.2%.

“Dam levels in the system have declined to 51%, while the Vaal Dam is dipping below 30%. If the Vaal Dam drops below 20%, the take-out pumping points are compromised,” he said.

Cllr Still warned that if there was no improvement due to non-compliance, Joburg Water would implement severe water restrictions until the required 15% reduction in water consumption was achieved and maintained. He said the outflow of water from its reservoirs and water towers would be reduced to affect consumer behaviour and protect its reticulation infrastructure.

“These measures will result in reduced flow due to less pressure in the system. The system will still have water but at a restricted rate. Some areas, like high-lying areas, might experience low flow or the lack of water when consumers in those areas do not reduce their consumption.

“We do not want to reach that stage where we have to choke back some areas,” he said. Cllr Still said the insufficient decrease in water consumption so far indicated a lack of appreciation for the precarious position the City and the region were in.

He urged residents to play their part and ensure that their neighbours fully adhere to water restrictions to avoid implementing stronger measures.

In terms of the revised Level 2 water restrictions, residents are required to comply with the following restrictions:
 No use of any irrigation or sprinkler system for watering of gardens with municipal water;
 No filling of pools with municipal water; and
 No washing of cars and cleaning of paved areas with a hosepipe.

“If these measures are not effective in reducing demand by 15%, then the Johannesburg Water will have to implement Level 3 water restrictions, which entails water rationing. This is undesirable as it could cause wide-scale water service disruption and extensive damage to the water infrastructure, which can result in significant water losses,” Cllr Still warned.